Veteran's Health Library Menu

Health Encyclopedia

Polyhydramnios

Amniotic fluid surrounds the baby and protects it as it develops (gestates). It also helps the baby’s muscles, lungs, and digestive tract develop properly. Your doctor has determined that you have too much amniotic fluid in the womb. This is called polyhydramnios. This problem is often easily managed. Read on to learn more.

Pregnant woman with baby visible inside uterus. Too much amniotic fluid surrounds baby.

Causes of Polyhydramnios

In most cases of polyhydramnios, the cause of the high fluid levels is not known. Polyhydramnios may be more common in women with diabetes or certain other health problems. A health problem with the fetus may also be a cause.

Diagnosing Polyhydramnios

An ultrasound is done to measure the amount of amniotic fluid in the womb. During the ultrasound test, the amount of amniotic fluid is measured, most often through a method called amniotic fluid index (AFI). In this method, the four pockets of fluid are measured vertically in your gestational sac (womb).

Managing Polyhydramnios

In most cases of mild polyhydramnios, no treatment is necessary. The problem may go away on its own. Your health care provider will perform regular ultrasounds to monitor your amniotic fluid level. Regular prenatal care is also done to check on your health and the health of your baby. If your health care provider decides that treatment is necessary, it may include:

  • Medications. Help decrease the amount of fluid being produced. They are rarely used beyond 32 weeks.

  • Amnioreduction. Drains excess fluid from the womb. This is done during amniocentesis.

  • Induction of labor. May be done if the pregnancy is at term or beyond. Your health care provider will tell you more, if needed.

Follow-Up

Your health care provider can talk to you more about the causes of your high amniotic fluid level. He or she may also discuss if any further testing or treatments are needed.

Call the health care provider right away if you have any of the following:

  • Fever of 100.4°F or higher

  • Sudden or severe abdominal cramping

  • Fluid leaking from the vagina

  • Regular, rhythmic contractions

  • Baby moving less than usual

Author: StayWell Custom Communications
Last Annual Review Date: 9/18/2014
Copyright © The StayWell Company, LLC. except where otherwise noted.
Disclaimer - Opens 'Disclaimer' in Dialog Window | Help | About Veterans Health Library